It is uncertain whether it was the sight or the smell that the man remarked upon first, for the mark of stress near his eyes and nose both competed with the sheer wonder the man beheld: a behemoth of a beast, flopped upon the street as though from nowhere, overnight. Such was the tale that made the rounds in Magnagora on the 5th of Estar, 615 CE, and was hot on tongue and ear both as word spread quickly from the constabulary outwards until nearly every Magnagoran was aware.
More than three-and-a-half thousand pounds of sopping, rotting flesh was discovered at the base of the Black Fortress, coated in a thin layer of its own rot juice and spilling a revolting stench that was startling even to those versed in the worship of Lord Gorgulu. Kalas Zagreus was the first notable person to lay eyes upon the beast and quickly summoned the rest of the city, including the constabulary, to the darkened streets beneath.
Discussion as to the beast’s origin filled the night and crept into the early morning as many puzzled over the situation. Veldrin D’Cente and Svenwolf both attempted to ingest the liquid upon the creature’s body and subsequently suffered horrifying physical aftereffects from doing so. Marquis Merceaux sought out the identity of the beggar who had reported the body originally and offered monetary compensation, should any future information come to light. Sapphira and Uzriel d’Vanecu, meanwhile, brought up the need for experts in the field. Silvanus d’Murani, agreeing with their thought, set out to visit his uncle, the esteemed Tunika d’Murani, within his own tower. Though interested, upon hearing about the current state of the body, the chemist deferred the body to Snaikka i’Xiia, an expert in the field of zoology.
True to the assumption, upon hearing of the beast and its unusual circumstances, Snaikka packed a small handbag and set off towards the Necropolis, arriving quickly behind Thalkros n’Lochli, who had set off to fetch her. Enraptured by the corpse in spite, or perhaps because, of the horrible stench and its gross, supple flesh, Snaikka quickly jotted down a few primary notes before declaring this public thoroughfare to be unsuited to her needs, and demanding the beast be relocated to outside of her tower, where she could work more efficiently and with less interruption. The Warlady of the Engine herself, Kailanna n’Kylbar, acquiesced to the woman’s need and stated it would be done. Hearing this, Snaikka quickly rushed home to begin preparing tools and order forms, pausing only to wipe her shoes upon the entrance mat to her tower. Though it means little to the grander events, it is critical to note that she would be the only person to do so throughout this entire affair.
Quickly discarding the idea of a catapult as a method for transporting the body across the city – for fear it may leak that stinking fluid everywhere – Magnagorans decided upon utilising a makeshift stretcher instead. Quickly they procured a tarpaulin from a nearby construction site and used long wooden planks to construct the device. Without the means to move such a heavy corpse on their own, however, eyes quickly turned to Veldrin, a Geomancer, who called upon the very cobblestones themselves to shift and angle the corpse in line with their demands. With the body sagging, the demonic thralls in service of the various Nihilists quickly rushed forward and saw to the dirtiest of the work: covering themselves in slime and stench as they finally coerced the great body into falling upon the stretcher.
Carried through the streets laboriously by the Warlady, Veldrin, Zagreus, and Silvanus, the corpse was finally laid to rest in the far northwest corner of the city, in the shadow of the i’Xiia Tower. There, Snaikka informed them that she had placed an order for new supplies and the construction of an outdoor laboratory in which to examine the creature. Donning arm-length leather gloves, she proceeded to make a preliminary inspection of the corpse, determining it to be absolutely ill-suited for land, and likening it to the bodies of creatures observed in the Sea of Despair.
Only a month later, the laboratory was constructed and the matron of the Ilithyia family was seen leaving the premises after collecting Snaikka’s signature on a final invoice for services rendered. Emboldened by the new equipment, Snaikka summoned her two proteges, Edwin d’Vanecu and Vittoria d’Lardick, to attend her. Only the latter responded promptly, however, and the two women disparaged the absence of the former briefly before beginning to carefully observe the creature and make their initial findings. Soon, all the Engine was allowed to take part, each dutifully documenting their findings as they took samples, identified the body’s physical makeup, and hypothesised about what may have happened. Knowing that much could yet be discovered, a month of time was allotted for this initial discovery period, throughout which many Magnagorans inspected the corpse with the various tools at their disposal… and a disturbing number of others continued to lick the creature and suffer the consequences.
Kiani saw the arrival of Tunika d’Murani, allegedly offered a formal invitation by Snaikka for this rare scientific undertaking. Alongside a case of samples collected by the Engine throughout the past month, Snaikka offered the man a chance to inspect the creature as well; which allowed them to discover a strange gland excreting mercurial fluid near its tail. Tunika, rather pleased with himself, carted away with a single box of samples and an order for servants to retrieve the rest: declaring that it would take him a while to achieve worthwhile results.
Seritul d’Vanecu, a master Necromancer, would also visit the corpse around that time with a different agenda. While the body was still as intact as it could be, he hoped that he might be able to temporarily reanimate the body, so that they might achieve a brief insight into the beast’s behaviour when it had lived. Within a ritual circle of blood, he attempted to raise the creature, yet there was no success. Emboldened by the challenge, however, the attending Necromancers were invited to join in the attempt: stepping up to the ritual and lending their power to the man even as the haunting chords of the Necroscream filled the air to empower the rite.
Energy racked the creature as the ritual was completed, sending it jerking for several seconds before it ultimately stilled: only the calm of the grave present within it. Yet despite this, Seritul seemed pleased with the results, for as he claimed: none could do more than those gathered here today, and the discovery of a creature so resistant to Necromancy was hardly something to overlook.
The next month, Tunika summoned the Engine to his laboratory, where dozens of metal racks held hundreds of plates bearing paper soaking in fluid. He had surmised that the liquid which suffused the creature was not, in fact, something the body naturally produced – for samples of fat and liquid they had obtained showed that it was likely the creature had orange blood and appeared to have incredibly dry flesh beneath its armoured tendons. Therefore, the Engine set off in a race around the Basin, across the Planes, and even into Aetherspace itself before a snowball procured by Silvanus matched the results of the water within the creature: proving it to have been housed and preserved, however temporarily, on Frosticia.
Emboldened by the presence of a tangible lead, the Engine sprung into action: coming together as one large party and besieging Frosticia to search for anything out of sorts. In their discoveries, however, they found nothing amiss. Fortunately, a passing snowman’s benign inquiry afforded them an invaluable clue in a firsthand witness to what was only described as ‘little fellows’ from their ‘long dark ships’ scurrying about with the corpse before burying it near the aetherdock.
In fact, the snowman claimed, after that last ‘big fight with the ships’, it appeared that a ship docking rather, unfortunately, dislodged the corpse and sent it tumbling to be jammed in the dock itself, soon carted away by the same ship which dislodged it. The creature’s presence within the Engine was no more than an accident, a whim of the Fates, and yet Magnagora was not deterred. A creature that held such potent illness and incredible size, while being resistant to Necromancy, was a threat they had now been made aware of, and they wished to uncover its ultimate truth.
Another round of interrogation saw the snowman finally remember the location from which he saw them bring the corpse and, after carefully trekking across a glacier, the more experienced adventurers within the Engine recognised the location as a tell-tale gathering point for the Gnafia. And so, utilising their contacts within the organisation and some long-standing favour, Magnagorans arranged for the location of the original transporter to be sought out.
Convinced they will soon get to the bottom of the mystery, they flew home across the aetherways. The matter had become yet more intriguing and layered, but they would not be deterred.